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FLEEING FROM PREDATORS, KICKING & LOOKING
I'm astounded by the amount of response (most of it via personal email) I've
had with regard to these trivial assertions about fleeing prey animals trying
to kick predators. Thankyou to all of you who have expressed an opinion.
However, quite a few people seem to have misinterpreted my assertion. I do not
doubt that (1) zebras (or buffalo, or wildebeest, or whatever) kick, or (2)
that zebras (or whatever) kick lions, or other predators, if need be.
I refer you all to Rob Meyerson's original statement:
> An animal doesn't necessarily have to keep an eye on a predator to get in a
> good hit. When a lion is attacking a zebra, the latter will intersperse it's
> gallop with a well placed kick in an attempt to drive off/injure the former.
I've watched zebras and other prey animals attempt to defend themselves from
attacking lions by flailing their limbs around. Note that this only occurs when
the zebra/whatever is it _big_ trouble: when a lion/more than one lion has
grabbed onto the prey's back, side or neck, for example. Contra Rob's
statement, it does not occur when the zebra is being pursued: the
zebra/whatever does _not_ 'intersperse its gallop with a well placed
kick'. What utter nonsense. According to Rob, '[a prey] animal doesn't
necessarily have to keep an eye on a predator to get in a good hit'. If the
zebra/whatever 'doesn't necessarily have.. an eye on a predator', how on earth
can a kick be 'well placed'?
Rob's statement seems to be in the same field as suggestions that a falling
_Tyrannosaurus_ could accurately control its headlong pitching into the dirt,
that sauropods would roll onto theropods to squash them to death, that
_Nanotyrannus_ is an analogue for the coyote, or that ceratopians worked like
Palaeontology, as we all know, is often criticised for veneering thin facts
with elaborate speculations, often plucked from wherever you fancy in the
natural world. This may be so, but models of predation in large theropods or
theories of ecotype segregation in large herbivorous dinosaurs are at least
based on relatively uniform and observable rules encountered throughout
analogous large vertebrates. They also have material evidence to back them
(e.g. evidence for theropod predation on other dinosaurs, varying designs of
skull shape in herbivorous dinosaurs).
We're not doing anything _wrong_ by speculating, but it might help if we have
at least a basic idea of what is realistic and what isn't.